State Budget Talks Collapse; Parties Blame Each Other

Just two days before the General Assembly's budget writing committee was supposed to complete work before floor debate on a two year spending, Democrats pulled a spending plan that had been negotiated for over two months.

Republicans quickly pointed the finger at Democrats who control the House of Representatives, and have a tiebreaker in the State Senate.

“They’re the ones who called the meeting for today," said Sen. Len Fasano, the Republican President Pro-Tem of the Senate.

Fasano and Rep. Themis Klarides, the House Republican Leader, said talks had been ongoing since February, but later said one Senate Republican was later barred from final talks with Democrats.

Fasano said the Democrats are responsible since they control the levers of the General Assembly.

"They caucused, they had us caucus. They told the press they were ready, they had the budget books printed, they were set. So for what happened, you have to ask them,” Fasano said.

Democrats pointed the finger back at Republicans, but also had to deal with rumor and innuendo regarding the timeline of events.

The two-year $41 billion budget proposal stripped out some of the most controversial elements that were proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy in February.

The budget included no increases to state sales or income taxes, but did include other fee hikes and an increased cigarette tax.

Multiple sources told NBC Connecticut different accounts as to who was to blame. One Democrat in the House who was granted anonymity to speak candidly, said it was Senate Democrats who had issues wrangling votes. Another Democrat in the State Senate told NBC Connecticut that Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz made the call himself to pull the budget.

Aresimowicz beat back such claims during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, and said Republicans were the ones who didn't work in good faith to pass a budget.

“I’m willing to hit the reset button," Aresimowicz said. "While disappointed and a little taken aback by the activities of that last few days, I think the state of Connecticut deserves a bipartisan budget that we can all say we had a hand in.”

Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney released a statement later saying Senate Democrats were united on the Appropriations Committee to pass a budget.

Majority Leader Bob Duff hinted that Republicans worked to provide an illusion that they wanted a bipartisan budget, despite a recent history of showing no interest in working with Democrats.

“The Republicans have not voted for a budget in ten years, so I’m not sure if they just got nervous and they decided to walk away but we hope to certainly hope to bring everybody back to the table for a bipartisan budget," Duff said.

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